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Power Your Podcast with Storytelling

Lesson 14 of 21

Putting the Story Elements Together

Alex Blumberg

Power Your Podcast with Storytelling

Alex Blumberg

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Lesson Info

14. Putting the Story Elements Together

Lesson Info

Putting the Story Elements Together

So how much editing? (laughs) It's tempting, especially when you're a producer at This American Life and your stock and trade is telling stories on the radio, to divide the world into storytellers and non-storytellers. And I don't know it that's necessarily true, but there are certain people who have an instinctual feel for like how to arrange it. You know, sort of how to, sort of have a build-up and how to get to a punch line and how to make that punch line sort of entertaining or evocative or something. And then there's other people who don't have that instinctive ability at all. And a lot of times when we're doing, when we're going about our business trying to tell stories, interviewing people, whatever, most people need help. And that is one of your jobs as sort of somebody who's trying to facilitate storytelling and whatever you're trying to do is to help people, give them the tools that they need to tell a good story. There's some pretty common mistakes. Mistake number one is to ...

not get to the punch line fast enough. And if you do get to the punch line, have it not be that good, right? Have it be, and I looked down and my shoes were brown. So that's one problem is sort of people think that their story's better than it is, right? And so one thing that you have to do is sort of be the judge of sort of like, did that rise to the level that I need it to rise to? Was that an interesting enough revelation, moment? Was that a funny enough joke, whatever? But then the other thing that I've noticed that people do all the time, they tell their stories out of order and they put the punch line first. So I'm gonna start with a, I have this sort of like the uber example in my mind of this. It's a story that I did at This American Life a long time ago. So I'm gonna set that up and I'm gonna play the story the way it appeared on This American Life. And then I'm gonna take you through all the work that it took to get it there. So the setup of the story is, this is a long time ago. We were doing a show, but it was like this very high concept story and it was a show that was called The Secret World of Daytime, and the idea was you go to work, and you're at work, and you're like sort of in your office and then you look outside and there's all these people who are outside during the work day, what are they doing? Right, what's up with that? And it was a better concept back then because now like everybody works from home and everyone works in a cafe, so it's not that surprising to see people out and about during the day. But back in the '90s before the internet age, it was like sort of something that you would do. So that was the setup, right? We're gonna go at it. And I had this idea that, I'd read some article about like the work of a mailman and how like a postal carrier goes out into these neighborhoods and they're like bedroom communities where everybody goes into the city to work and then the postal carrier's all alone in the neighborhood and it's this sort of existential, sort of like feeling of just being like I'm the only one out here working in this lonely neighborhood. So it was a story I wanted to tell. I wanted to find like a eloquent, poetic mailman, who could talk about the existential angst of delivering mail to empty homes. (audience laughs) So I called the public relations person at the Chicago Post Office (laughs) and they'd been in some scandal recently, so they were like we're not giving you anybody interesting. So they gave me the best mailman in the system, like the most steadfast, honest and true mailman that they could find, who also happened to care only about the mail and how to deliver it properly and was not at all, didn't really have very much, sort of like interest in introspection. So I was following him around. I was like, oh god, what is gonna happen? But there were some interesting things that I noticed while we were walking around on the route. So I was out there for a day with him, following him around, recording him as he was talking about it. And he did. He was working in a bedroom community. There wasn't anybody home during the day, so he was out there. And the only people who were out there were drug dealers. So he worked in this neighborhood where it was sort of like there was him and there were drug dealers. And he had this really conflicted relationship with the drug dealers. On the one hand he was sort of scared of them. They were sort of scary guys. But on the other hand, they were sort of in it together. They were the only ones working out there and they were both out there rain or shine. Snow or sleet. (audience laughs) You know, trying to make a living. And sort of like applying their trade in the middle of this empty neighborhood. So there was this weird sort of conflict that I wanted to get at to him. And then at a certain point during the day, he told me this story that got to the sort of, the inherent nature of that sort of conflicted relationship. He was so scared of the drug dealers, that he would not call them drug dealers. He would only call them business men or boys in the hood. (audience laughs) You need that, that's important piece of tape. All right, so here's the story. All right. There was a situation where the guy moved. And this was a customer that you've known-- It was, I've known for a while. He had been on the route for about two or three years. I told you we forward the mail to the new address. This guy not knowing that it's been forwarded, he tells me he's gonna make me give him his check. He had the impression that I still had the check. And what's he saying to you specifically? Well, he's telling me, "You're going to give me my check, "you're going to give me my check." And I keep telling him, "Well, it's been forwarded to your new address." Told him it'd probably there tomorrow or the day after. And he says, well, he can't wait. And, looked like he was gonna whoop me or something because he was taking a jacket off. And when he came to me, the boys in the hood surround him and told him, "That's my mailman, "you don't mess with him," you know. So he went on about his business, no problem. And so what did you say to those guys after that happened? Oh, I just thanked them. How you doing, dear? I just thanked them for what they did. They told me it wasn't no problem. Said, "Because you've been around here too long "for anybody to be messing with ya." All right. So, nice little story, right? Like it sort of sets it up. You get this idea of like, oh look, they came to his aid. And then he sort of like acknowledged them and moved on. Like that was his job. What was the punch line, by the way, of that story? If you had to sort of diagnose, what would be the punch line of that story? Or the moment of revelation? Yeah, Stella? It's the point I think where he goes, that's my mailman, like don't lay a finger on him-- Yeah, it's that, that's one. Or one other one that you could sort of choose is there's another moment where they come to his aid and they're sort of like. There's, he says it twice, he says at the end. And he says it right before then, right. And it comes at the end, where it's supposed to come. So what I wanna do though is, so there's two moments that I want to sort of point out to you guys right now from that story. So the first one was the moment where he realized, the moment of realization, the punch line. And then the second one was what are some key details that you remember from that story, the mailman story? Like what were the ones that are sort of in the rising action? Yeah, Anne? He took his jacket off 'cause he's gonna whoop him. Right, he took, yeah exactly. Anything else? Yeah, Morgan? The gate closing. The sound of it and so we can tell he's like on his route. Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, you definitely hear that. That was like an omnipresent sound that we're sort of going through. But there's definitely, it was like, who else would have said that he took his jacket off, he looked like he was gonna whoop me, right? Okay, that's a key detail, right, that's one of the ones that you're sort of like, oh, okay, it just gives you this visual. Like okay, there's this guy coming down and he's like, where's my check? All right, so we got a punch line. And when he came to me, the boys in the hood surround him, told him, "That's my mailman, you don't mess with him." All right, and so that's the punch line. And then you've got this key detail. Looked like he was gonna whoop me or something because he was taking a jacket off. All right, and so this is what it looked like. That's what it looks like when I edit it, okay? So this is the software that we use. It's Pro Tools. It's just the editing software that we use. And all these lines are edit marks, okay? So this is what I did. This is sort of the surgery that I did on this story, all right? So I'll just play it again. You can see it going. There was a situation where the guy moved. All right, so you just follow the arrow, this is what he's saying. This is a customer that you've known and he's on your route-- I've known for a while. He had been on the route for about two or three years. I told you we forward the mail to their new address. This guy not knowing that it's been forwarded, he tells me he's gonna make me give him his check. He had the impression that I still had the check. And what's he saying to you specifically? And you see when it's softer, the lines are softer, right? "You're going to give my check." And I keep telling him, "Well, it's been forwarded to your new address." Told him it'd probably be here tomorrow or the day after. And he says, well, he can't wait. And it looked like he was gonna whoop me or something because he was taking a jacket off. And when he came to me, the boys in the hood surround him and told him, "That's my mailman, you don't mess with him." You know, so he went on about his business, no problem. And so what did you say to those guys after that happened? Oh, I just thanked them. How you doing, dear? I just thanked them for what they did. They told me it wasn't no problem. Said, "Because you've been around here too long "for anybody to be messing with ya." All right, so that is what it looks like. That's when I'm editing the story. That's what it looks like. And you see there's a lot of edit marks. So one way of telling a good storyteller versus a bad storyteller, the number of edit marks they require to get them in order. So let's talk about this. So, the punch line. And when he came to me-- It's right there. The boys in the hood surround him and told him, "That's my mailman, you don't mess with him." 44 seconds in. So this segment right here, that is, "When he came to me, the boys in the hood surrounded him, "told him 'That's my mailman, you can't miss with him.'" That's at 44 seconds. The telling detail: Looks like he was gonna whoop me or something because he was taking a jacket off. So that's at 39 seconds, okay? So there's the punch line that we've identified, this telling detail that we've identified. They're in order. The telling detail comes before the punch line. All right, now I'm gonna show you, now I'm gonna play you the raw tape of what actually happened when I was talking to Henry. And there's a couple lessons in this tape. First of all, and we talked about this in the last session. That often you'll be talking to somebody who wants to tell you one story, and you want them to tell you another story. And you're right and often the story they wanna tell you is not the story that you wanna hear, that your listeners are gonna wanna hear, and so sometimes there's a gentle nudging away from the story they wanna tell to the story you wanna tell, sometimes it's an out and out battle between you and them. And that's what it was with Henry 'cause the story Henry wanted to tell me, and I told you he was like the best mailman in the Chicago Postal Service system. The story he wanted to tell me was how to properly forward your mail. (audience laughs) And so just as you're listening to this tape, notice how many times he starts talking about proper mail forwarding procedure. And how many times I have to get him back, all right? So let's just hear the raw tape now. This is what it looks like, all right? And here we go, this is the raw tape. This is about two minutes long, there we go. There was a situation where the guy moved. So a change of address card was put in order. And this guy in turn, I told you we forward the mail to their new address, this guy in turn not knowing that it's been forwarded, he tells me he's gonna make me give him his check. And when he came to me, the boys in the hood surround him and told him, "That's my mailman, you don't mess with him." Because I had then explained to him already that his mail has been forwarded to his new address, and that's all I could say. You know that you moved. You know you filed a change of address card. We don't have a holding facility for the mail, so naturally, we forward it to your new address. That's the purpose of the forwarding order. So they came to my rescue because I didn't know what he was gonna do. He was taking a jacket off. He was taking a jacket off, but they came to my rescue. So wait, set the scene a little bit more. So you're coming up, you come up to this house. Right. Okay, and then what happens? Okay. The same scene, okay. Well, what it was I was coming up to his house. He in turn moved. He filed a change of address card, which was his responsibility 'cause otherwise we wouldn't know where he's at. And this is a customer that you've known, and he's been on your route? I've known for a while. He had been on the route for about two or three years. This individual here, he decides that he's going to take him a check, you know? So he's waiting? Say that again. He decided he's gonna take a check or have me write him one. Now this is the impression that I'm getting because I've already told him it's been forwarded to his new address. And what's he saying to you specifically? Well, he's telling me, "You're going to give me my check, "you're going to give me my check." And I keep telling him, well, "It's been forwarded to your new address." Told him it'd probably there tomorrow or the day after. And he says? And he says, well, he can't wait. So when he was, he had the impression that I still had the check. That's what it was, I think that's what it was. He had the impression I still had the check. So he in turn, looked like he was gonna whoop me or something because he was taking a jacket off. So, you might have noticed that, so let's see, the punch line. And when he came to me, the boys in the hood surround him, told him, "That's my mailman, you don't mess with him." Happened at 22 seconds. The telling detail. Looked like he was gonna whoop me or something because he was taking a jacket off. Happened in two minutes, at the very end of this story. So this is what happened, was I knew that I needed a story to hang this thought that I had sort of observed on. I knew that I needed like some sort of telling story that was gonna like help get across this thing that I'd been observing. And when he told me the punch line of like the boys in the hood coming to his defense, I was like, oh, that's a punch line, but it needs a good story as part of it. And so all the rest of that minute and 48 seconds is me trying to go back and get the details from him to put in order. Now most people are not gonna be in the situation where they can sort of go back, get the details in order and then re-engineer them through Pro Tools and the power of editing software and stuff like that. And I'm not suggesting that that's what necessarily everybody's gonna do. Some of you might wanna be doing that, but many of you are gonna have podcasts where you're gonna do sort of light editing maybe, you can edit out a chunk. And so if you notice, and what you can do is you can back somebody up. If you hear a punch line without a story, you can sort of say to them, "Actually, back up, tell me that as a story." Just to set the scene a little bit more. And that often will do the trick. Not everybody is sort of like as resistant to narrative as this particular mailman was. And even he wasn't, he actually got better, he loosened up and everything like that. So, most people have a natural sort of sense of like if you give them the right prompting, they will back up. So, but if you see what I ended up having to do, was sort of like going back and then when I was editing it I took, again, this is the edited version. So I moved the telling detail right there. I moved the punch line over there and there the punch line now happens. Instead of at 22 seconds, at 44 seconds, and the telling detail instead of happening at two minutes, happened at 39 seconds. So I was just sort of restoring everything in order. Questions, yes, Bree? So, I just made a note in my notebook to think about that when I'm editing, but I want to make sure to ask every single episode you do, is this the kind of formula you use and when you're editing you think about actions, telling detail, punch line, moment of reflection, and then you make marks for that. Is that just something I should do as a rule of thumb as a podcaster? I think it becomes a little internalized. And it wasn't like, it wasn't that I necessarily, it wasn't that I was really sitting down and sort of trying to think how to explain it, that I realized that that was it, but yeah, absolutely. We will think, like what's the story? We'll talk to ourselves about like, sort of like there's a lot of great stuff, there's a lot of great emotion, there's not enough stories. We have a term of art that we used at This American Life, which was sort of, we called it an anecdote, but essentially it meant like, a 30 second to a minute and a half long narrative that sort of had sequence of actions and that arrived at a point. And that's what we, yeah, and I think absolutely. I think that's a building block of any successful conversation, any successful sort of story, any successful communication that you're doing, where you're trying to use storytelling to sort of get across a point. If you can have the details and then have them arrive at a point, that will help. I'm doing it all the time right now. You know, when I'm up on stage. I'm telling these details and then I arrive at a point. I did it with Henry before, where I was saying, where I was setting up Henry, I told a story, I said now a lotta times, can't remember exactly what I did, but it was a lotta times you'll find this and some people will say this, and some people will say this, and you're battling with people, and then I got to the punch line. Henry, what he wanted to talk about was proper mail forwarding procedure, right? And so that was the punch line of my story, but I told it as a story. And if I had just said, "Now Henry, you wanna talk about "proper mail forwarding procedure?", nobody would have laughed if I had said that first. So it needed the setup to get the laughter, right? So, absolutely. This is something that I think is, I think about it when you're trying to, when you're in the storytelling business, this is what you think about, yeah. Yeah, Jeff? You can hear you working towards trying to get him to say the thing you want him to say and he finally gets going. And then I got the sense that you, you sensed that he was starting to slow down again and maybe veer off because you hear in the background, you say, you prompt, you kinda pick him up again, you say, "And he said?" or then-- Absolutely. And I was wondering, I don't remember that in the final cut, but was it there or did you take it out because you wanted it to seem organic? That once he got going, he finally. That, it was like a totally, like it was totally a judgment call. Like if I took it out, it wasn't because I wanted it to seem one way or another. It was just purely pacing, like did it need to be in there or not, was the reason. I think sometimes you hear me say, "And then he said?", and then other times you don't. I think is what I ended up doing, but it wasn't because of any sort of, it was more just to sort of like get, keep the pacing right. Sort of have it like not drag in the detail part. But another thing that I'm trying to do there, so you're trying to get setting the scene, right? You're trying to get these details. And one way to know when you're on the right track is if you're getting people to quote dialogue to you. So that's what I was doing. I was just trying to get some details. I was like, and then he said, and then I said, and then he said, is a natural story. Those are natural rising action details that really help your story, so if you can get somebody sort of talking about a story that happened in the past, then you can get them sort of quoting dialogue to you, you're on the right track. It feels very immediate and it feels real. And it's gripping in a way that like it's not general. Yeah, Lena? So if you were telling a story that was 10 minutes long, would this be the structure for every scene for the whole story? Or is, that's what I'm confused about, or is this the structure you would go for for the whole 10 minutes? Where by minute 10 you would have the punch line. If your story is, no, no. I'm saying like every minute and a half or so, every 45 seconds to a minute, something new has to happen in your story. So this was part of a 10 minute story. This was 45 seconds of that 10 minute story. And that's one of the things that I think is, and especially when you're telling longer stories, that's incredibly important, it's like something new. And it doesn't have to be a super huge revelation necessarily, but it has to be a new thought, or a new idea, or a new emotion, or an unexpected turn, or a reset. Something new has to happen every 45 seconds to a minute and a half. And that's why this structure is so helpful when you're telling stories, if you can have a 10 minute story that's made up minute long anecdotes that all end in a nice wonderful, sort of moment of revelation, that's great. You've got, so much of your work is done. You've got these bricks and all you have to do is build your story out of them. Yeah? So on that note, how does this apply to structuring that meta story, if you're stringing together a series of smaller stories? Yeah, so that's a, that... And then these little stories become the details or your larger story, right? So then you've got this, so the first anecdote he told me was about getting into mail. And the second anecdote he told me was about sort of like learning the route. And then the third anecdote he told me was about the boys in the hood coming to his rescue. And then the fourth anecdote he told me was about how that made him think differently about the mail and mail carrying or whatever, and then I'm done, right? So the story has been constructed out of these smaller stories, right? It's stories on top of stories, people. But yeah, yeah, from the chatroom. Yeah, I wanna get the chat and volunteers. So, we have some people who are curious about sort of the ethics of taking what's coming out from your interviewee and shaping it in a way through the editing. So Bethany wants to know, and four other people voted for this one, sometimes you're editing together a good story that's different from the story the individual wants to tell. How do you do that with integrity? That's a really important question and I think, you know, anytime you're editing, anytime you're telling a story, you're at the very least lying by omission, right? A story is leaving details out. And sometimes they're the meaningful details to the subject of your story that are not the meaningful details to you. It is something that if you are not thinking about and wrestling with constantly, you're probably not doing it right. Like it is something that you should be constantly, with editing you can take a no and make it a yes. You can utterly change the meaning. And so it is incredibly important to be true to the intent of what people were saying. This story is not, I don't think Henry would have a problem with this story that, I mean, he heard it, presumably, and he never said anything to us. In the years of working in audio, that I can count on one hand the number of times where people have been, have felt like, you know, taken out of context, or felt like we got it wrong. But everybody always feels like it's not exactly the story I would tell about myself, right? And that's like, and I've had that happen with me. I've been the subject of stories, and I'm like, I don't know if I'd tell that story about me that way. So respecting and honoring that feeling and knowing that you were taking somebody else's story and making it into your story and that there's something a little bit funny about that. I think you just have to honor that, for sure, yeah. Great. Now I know we're not gonna get too much in the technical editing right now, but a few questions came in, I'd love to get your opinion on. We have a viewer who wants to know, they say, Alex, do you transcribe the entire interview and work out the edits on paper before the actual audio, or do you do it straight in the Pro Tools software? That's changed over time. When I was first starting out, I would transcribe everything. And that's a great exercise, I think, if what you're trying to do is get into exactly this field, like transcribing everything and then just because it makes you listen again, and it's helpful to go back. At this point, like I've, my brain has been changed so much that I just, like I basically remember it now, so I don't really have to go back, I don't really have to transcribe everything. And I can't, I don't have the time really, so I don't transcribe, but definitely at the beginning it was really helpful. And for like for the first, I don't know, 10 years that I was doing this, I would transcribe everything. And you learn a lot. You learn a lot about what you should have asked. You learn a lot about what you screwed up in the interview. You learned a lot about like all the opportunities that you missed to do, to ask the right follow-up question. So many times I would be yelling at myself, like ask him this, ask him this, ask him this, and I didn't. So frustrating, you know? And it would have been the perfect question that would have gotten me to the place I needed to be in my story, and now I didn't have anything. So yeah, definitely, it's like I do that. And then I do a rough edit sort of on paper, and then when I get into the software, then you sort of do the more micro edits. Yeah? What did you use for transcribing? Like what was your process? My process was putting on headphones and typing. (everyone laughs) Yeah, it was hard. It was really time consuming. Yeah, it's really time consuming. I think there's a, I think that technology will soon catch up and that will no longer, if it's and already is not necessary, it soon will not be necessary, but I would argue that at least listen while it's being transcribed again. You have to listen back. And it's long and it's like hard, but it's like a really, especially in the beginning, it's really valuable to listen back. Yeah, Ryan? Yeah, I remember seeing a video of the South Park creators, Trey and Matt, doing a quick seminar on writing, how they write an episode of South Park, and they said that they basically demand that every beat in the story transitions from the previous beat using either therefore or but, so everything has to either happen because of the previous event or in opposition to the previous event. And I was wondering if that works for non-fiction. Huh, I have never thought about it that way. I don't know if it works the same way in audio. 'Cause I think often what I'm doing in audio, especially and I'm gonna talking about this later, is that I'm sort of like, often what you have to do is you have to sort of look back, because you don't have visuals, so all you have is the words to guide you and the voice of the narrator to guide you, so often what you have to do is you have to sort of say, okay, so we've just experienced this whole thing together. I'm gonna summarize that a little bit, but somehow without it being repetitive, and then I'm gonna transition this and then I'm gonna give us a new idea and a new question, sort of to motivate us into listening forward. And so you need, so that's often what I'm doing, is sort of like explaining where we've been, and then providing a new set of stakes to sort of propel us forward. Audio's really weird. You really need a, almost like a, like because you can sort of be in the middle of it and you don't know where you're going, and because it's time based, so you can just be listening for 45 seconds and you don't know what the point is necessarily, and you can be sort of tuning out and be like, wait, why am I listening to these details, they're not adding up to anything? And even if there's a great point coming, in the moment you don't know, right? So you need to have promise, people, like listen to these key details and there's gonna be a great point in a minute. So that they stick through it and so that they know. Yeah, and then we should-- Your frustration, where you're yelling at yourself, why didn't ask that question? I think a big fear of many storytellers going in is how do we know when we got enough, right? That I'm going to leave out that critical moment that in the edit I'm gonna be like, ah. And I can't go back and get it, right? I remember Googling, how to tell a story, when I was gonna go out and do a video piece. And I've been through school, I've been to English class, I feel so stupid, but I was like I can't, how am I gonna know when I got enough? Yeah, and you sort of, I still don't necessarily always know. It's always like a little bit of like, I think I got enough, but if not ever. Is there A, B, Cs that you're at least looking for when you're out there? I mean it's like I think it's sort of training your gut a little bit more. Like a lotta times you come back and you have this gut feeling that I didn't get enough, and like you're probably right. And the problem is that you didn't know how to ask the right question to get the thing, or maybe you were just interviewing the wrong person in the first place, or there's like a lot of that. I don't know, it's like it's a tricky one, yeah. And then one other one, and then we should probably move on. Yeah? Well, this goes off of that question, but so when you have one of these moments where you are editing your tape and you say, (scoffs) I don't have, I don't know how this person felt at this moment and it's really key to the story or whatever. What do you do then? Do you call them up and just talk through it with them and then summarize, like put it in your narration in the final piece? Or how do you handle that? Wait, how do I handle with-- Well like, when you're missing something, when you realize I didn't ask that question that I needed to ask and-- Oh, if I have time, I'll just call them up and say, "Hey listen, there's a couple more questions "I wanted to ask you, can I just go back and do it again?" I do that all the time. And that actually helps. It often leads to really good tape. So I'll just do it again, if they're open for it, and I realize, oh, I left out this key detail, I need to go back, or there was this one question that was like, I realize now as I've gone back and logged my tape, I need to ask, I'll just do it, I'll call 'em up, and it often works.

Class Description

Short on time? This class is available HERE as a Fast Class, exclusively for Creator Pass subscribers.

Join Alex Blumberg, award-winning reporter and producer for This American Life and co-host of NPR’s Planet Money, for Power Your Podcast with Storytelling, and learn podcast tips on how to tell powerful, memorable stories through audio.

Storytelling is in our DNA – integrating its principles into a podcast not only helps you tell better stories, it allows you to authentically and emotionally connect with your audience. In this class, you will learn the unique approach to interviewing and story composition, which has made This American Life a fan favorite on public radio stations across the country. Alex will share production techniques you can use to create a multi-layered sensory experience and share tips for standing out in the ever-growing field of podcasts. You’ll learn: 

  • How to develop your narrative instincts
  • How to prepare for an interview to get the best answers
  • The elements of a good story

Alex will teach you how to create a “driveway moment” — that experience when the story is so good, it makes the audience pause what they are doing just to listen through to the end.

Whether you already produce a successful podcast, are a creative entrepreneur looking for a new marketing method, or just a public radio-loving audiophile – this class will help you tell better stories.


Matt James Smith

The best storytelling resource I've come across bar none. I've read all the books, paid for all the online courses, listened to all the podcasts but for me none have been anywhere near as useful, engaging, moving, fun and outright inspiring as this course. If you're trying to tell stories with factual material, whatever your medium, this is as good as it gets. Regarding those reviewers saying it was haphazard and underprepared - huh? He doesn't offer strict formulas and perfectly structured, detailed approaches, but that's because he's the real deal. Those things only exist for snake-oil-merchant online "story gurus" who charge through the nose for "the perfect strategy" (*cough* Patrick Moreau *cough*). Alex offers what he can of tricks and formulae, but where it's about experience and gut feelings, he's honest. Thank god. Superb.

Gregory Lawson

This class is great on multiple levels. Are you interested in interviewing? There are great tips and techniques. Interested in Storytelling? Great insights into the basic structures and tools to test how compelling your story idea is. Interested in podcasting? Great tips and ideas here too... Alex is a seasoned pro, has an easy, approachable style and allows his class (and you) time to really consider and work through the concepts. Excellent all the way around!